Sunday, February 27, 2011

Quelque Chose #9

Mega super shiny congratulations to my cousin Ciara Conway, elected to the 31st Dáil, the first woman TD in Waterford in over fifty years. Outstanding.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Get Your Vote On

We've got until 10 o'clock tonight everybody! Fianna Fáil have spent the last thirteen years or so running the country into the ground and making up ridicuously high-salaried jobs for their mates. Fine Gael are more of the same, they simply have better timing and as Lucinda Creighton's recent bigoted, shortsighted cuntitude has highlighted, they couldn't give a sparkly fuck about legalising same sex marriage. We can surely do better than these two right wing conservative parties. Hooray for abortion and gay marriage says I.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ich Bin Ein Brrrliner

A 5am start isn't the most ideal way to begin a holiday, but it did kick off four immensely fun but freezing cold days in the funky-ass city of Berlin for TCup, Marzipan, Cloudy and I. Given the amount of sleeping and drinking we ended up doing, we also managed to cram in a fair amount of sightseeing between bleary eyed hangovers and buying armfuls of cheap Haribo. It went rather a lot like this:

* Whilst looking for a particular museum on the Friday, we had been following TCup's lead and arrived at an empty square with no sign of said museum. Confused, she rechecked the guide book and insisted that it should be here, because M for museum was marked in this location on the map. It wasn't until Marzipan and Cloudy had a look that we realised the M she was referring to was actually just one of the map coordinate letters across the top of the page. I'm in no position to laugh though, seeing as I have enough difficulty with left and right, never mind trying to make sense of a map. It was rather funny though.

* Ambling down Oranienburger Strasse after a few sensational mojitos, it took me longer than it should have to realise that the girls standing around in ski boots and somehow wearing very tightly laced and shiny black corsets over white puffa jackets weren't just oddly dressed goths but hookers, or as I just about recall exclaiming much, much later on "cailíní na h-oíche!". The word striapacha had obviously departed my brain earlier on in the night.

* Further down Oranienburger, we found ourselves in Café Zapata, a grimy, grungy bar in what turned out to be a former squatting compound. A six euro entry fee and "No Photographs" signs on the walls didn't exactly endear the place to me at first, but then there was all this vodka and suddenly Caracho happened.

As you can see, the whole "no photos" thing didn't really last.

While we were sitting in the outdoor area, we could hear a band taking to the stage inside. They sounded good. Really good, in fact. When we ventured in to investigate, we were flung into one of the best gigs I've ever been to. Crazy, sweaty, messy energy, bellowed German lyrics with badass heavy guitar and the entire crowd going absolutely nuts for it. A half English, half German cover version of I've Got The Power went down a fucking storm. But what sealed the deal entirely for me was a song towards the end of their set where the only line I could make out was "du bist meine katze" (you're my cat, I figured), the singer had donned a top hat, the guitarist was suddenly wielding a pink Hello Kitty guitar and the sexy girl (keyboards, I think) had come onstage dressed AS CATWOMAN. I nearly lost my shit. It's like they rifled through the filing cabinet of my brain and just smashed together a heap of stuff I love and fired it onto a stage. Catwoman proceeded to rip off the frontman's shirt and he finished by upending an entire bottle of beer all over her. Un...real.

* Having risen at five and only getting a two hour nap in the hotel, powered solely by booze and divilment we somehow manged to keep going on Friday night in Café Zapata until five o'clock the next morning. I'm not sure I've ever seen 5am from both sides in the one stint, but I guess that's one thing I can tick off the list now.

* While browsing through the fancy Taschen shop, Marzipan took The Big Penis Book off the shelf and opened it for a giggle as we all gasped at one appendage in particular and whispered "There's no way that's real!". Unfortunately for her, we abandoned poor Marzipan when the dust jacket slipped off to reveal a massive cock on the cover as well, leaving her red-faced and fumbling with the huge coffee table book, trying to hold, re-jacket and close it on her own, because yes, we're that mature.

* CityMaps2Go is the most genius iPhone app of all time, in terms of being in an unfamiliar city at least. The GPS on the phone shows exactly where you are and what direction you're facing, which for me with my aforementioned inability to read a map, was nothing short of miraculous. It became particularly handy when we just wanted to go for a drink somewhere. A quick flick through the search function on it brings up a list of the nearest pubs, bars, train stations, whatever. Typically, while standing shivering outside the hotel, the nearest pub happened to be a place called The Irish Times. It was cold. We wanted a pint. Don't judge us.

* Cocktails. Cocktails for less than a fiver make us a very happy foursome indeed. We only stretched to €5.90 in one particular case, because these were POWER cocktails. With 73% rum being a main ingredient. And they were called Zombies. Delicious.

* One of two things in particular that I learned about Berlin is that it's probably the only city in which you can flog any old piece of spray painted concrete and pass it off as a fragment of the Wall. If all those pieces in the shops and stuck to postcards were the real deal, they'd have gone through at least eight different Berlin Walls by now.

* The second thing I learned is that in Berlin, we all have amazing hair. Seriously. The German capital seemed to agree with our hair no end. Most likely down to the fact that although it was teeth-chatteringly cold, it was a dry kind of teeth-chatteringly cold, and as such there was ne'er a hint of frizz nor kinks to be had. Lovely.

* Fassbender & Rausch is one of the most amazing shops in the world. A fancy-pants chocolate shop that takes things to quite an extreme.

That's a giant chocolate bear and there behind those fancy sweets? Yes, that's a chocolate TITANIC for feck's sake. The lunatic geniuses.

* It turns out that Sunday nights in Berlin aren't exactly big drinking nights. Fuelled by power cocktails and Cuba Libres, at one o'clock we found ourselves outside the closed CCCP bar, having mistakenly thought it would still be heaving with banter and potential mischief. For want of a bar, or indeed anywhere to drink, we proceeded to arm ourselves with cheap corner-shop vodka that might as well have been petrol and drank ourselves stupid in the hotel room. I was a rather delicate cat for much of the following day.

* I confess, the hipster that surely dwells within me absolutely lost the the run of herself in Berlin with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. In my defence, the grimy, Soviet, darkened edges effect it produces really suited Berlin and its landmarks. Brilliant fun had by all, despite the minus six temperatures. Next time I'll go when it's warmer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quelque Chose #8

Well kids, I'm off to Berlin at stupid o'clock tomorrow morning for a few days of fun and Teutonic frolics with three foxy ladies in honour of two of their birthdays. For now I'll leave you with this fetching picture of Marlene Dietrich while we go kick up a ruckus in her hometown. Back next week dahlings.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quiet Down The Back

As I recall, at one point during the course of the Rocky Horror night, our conversation for some reason turned to silent film stars and how so many of their careers were ended by the advances made in sound and the introduction of talkies. An actor's voice isn't really something you'd consider too much nowadays, with notable exceptions like Alan Rickman's knicker-dropping chocolatey drawl. Film stars back then must have been so enigmatic when you think about. The fact that people didn't even know what their favourite actors sounded like seems so strange compared with today's standard of celebrity. Endless talk show appearances, gossip magazine covers and the fact that so many of them splatter every inane detail of their days onto Twitter, bad spelling and all, really removes any hint of mystery they might previously have had. I can't quite picture Rudolph Valentino tweeting, for some reason.

Greta Garbo's very first line on film.

The grande dame of elusiveness, Greta Garbo, was one of the most successful actors to make the transition from silent film stardom to sound. Her first speaking role was even publicised with the tagline "Garbo Talks!", where her husky voice was introduced to the cinema-going world. Apparently she refused voice coaching and her Swedish accent clearly didn't get in the way of her popularity.

However, things didn't pan out quite as well for stars like Polish born Pola Negri and Hungarian actress Vilma Banky. Both women had made names for themselves as onscreen femmes fatales during the silent era, but the advent of sound cut short both of their careers in Hollywood, due to their heavy accents.

Norma Talmadge was a hugely successful film star and one of the most highly paid actresses of the 1920s. She's even credited with starting the trend of celebrity handprints at Grauman's Chinese Theatre after accidentally stepping in wet cement outside the building. But when it came to talking, audiences found her Jewish Brooklyn drawl at odds with her sweet and cutesy onscreen persona. As one film historian put it: "sound proved the incongruity of her salon prettiness and tenement voice." Harsh enough.

Note the "The microphone - the terror of the studios" line, not to mention the snarky "You can't get away with it in Hollywood" positioned beside Norma's face. Lousy.

It seems that the dawn of the talkies also gave studios an excuse to cut troublesome stars loose, as Clara Bow's New York accent was thought to be the reason for her faltering career, although her constant clashes with film executives were really to blame. John Gilbert, who had become known as a dashing swashbuckler type was generally believed to have stopped acting because his voice didn't match his image. But it appears that, like Clara Bow, there were other reasons. According to his daughter, the tension between him and Louis B. Mayer escalated to the point that Mayer sabotaged Gilbert by making his voice recordings sound more high pitched than they truly were in order to end his career. The diabolical bastard!

So, Eastern European accents and devious studio heads aside, it's quite interesting how technology can have such a masive effect on a performer's career. I'm not sure there'd be an equivalent of it today really, other than film stars needing to be more gorgeous than ever with the introduction of HD broadcasting every pore and freckle on their faces. I suppose for now our over-exposed film stars are relatively safe from technological advances.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Rocky Valentine

I know it was only a matter of months since the last time we spent an evening of mischief at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in The Sugar Club, nevertheless that's exactly where we we found ourselves last Saturday night, only this time it was Anti-Valentine's Delight flavour.

The bottom left picture shows the Bear kindly retying the knot on my corset which somehow came undone. Also, I had to get a picture of my eye make-up as it was my first proper attempt at that liquid eyeliner flicky thing and I was rather proud of the result.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing on my part beforehand, as I was finding it tremendously difficult to decide on a corset to wear. Granted, the red and black one was more in keeping with the Rocky Horror colour scheme, but the purple one meant I wouldn't have to keep readjusting myself all evening. Purple emerged victorious, as the question of boob-wrangling would inevitably have gotten more tiresome as the evening wore on.

All the usual mayhem applied, toast flying at the screen, an abundance of ass on show (man-ass included and impossible to tear your eyes away from, no matter how much you want to) water guns fired into the crowd, simulated sex onstage, you know yourself. The Bear and I each had a hip flask of rum stowed upon our respective persons and I can safely warn you beyond doubt that his 'n hers hip flasks will unquestionably be followed by his 'n hers headaches the next morning.

Well one of us got ripped off, that's for damn sure.

After the show, when the dancing had ensued (I say dancing, in my case I mean acting out as many lyrics as possible with increasingly erratic gesturing) I was approached by a foxy lady called Caroline with fire engine red hair and a top hat that I'm totally jealous of. Said lady made my night, as it turns out that she recognized me from this here blog and we had a great old chat about it, in between me not quite getting my head around the whole situation. She also informed me that Tura Satana died during the week, whose ridiculously colourful life I've previously blogged about. Maybe now a film will be made about her, because someone really needs to dammit. So to summarise: sexy fun, sneaky rum, Hi Caroline! and RIP Tura, you total badass.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Squirrels Vs Robots

Not quite as age old a question as say, Pirates vs Ninjas (pirates, obviously) but there you go. Those of you in Dublin will most likely have seen the Upstart posters battling it out against Eamon Gilmore, Micheál Martin and gale force winds on lamposts across the city. It's a great initiative that put the call out to artists, designers and whoever else flipping well wants to, to submit a poster design in order to smack everyone in the face with a dose of creativity in the run up to the General Election.

I submitted two designs for it, one featuring squirrels, inspired by this blog post and the other, in typical last-minute, oh-Jaysus-what'll-I-do, here's one I made earlier style, is a rejigged version of my Full Circle poster.
In the purple corner, fighting it out for fuzzy mammalkind.

In the blue corner, battling for androids and cyborgs alike.

Yesterday, I was delighted to get an email letting me know that my work was chosen to be printed and would be waging a lampost war of its very own against whichever politicians happen to be running in that area. A browse through the online gallery revealed that, in this instance, the Squirrels vs Robots result favours our mechanical brethren. Go Robots! So, if in the following weeks anyone spots these blue robots smiling their automated smiles down at them from a lampost, please drop me a line because I'd love to get a picture of it, and you will be duly rewarded with my undying affection complete with bonus inappropriately long hugs.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Yesterday, Google commemorated the birth of Jules Verne with an interactive 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea version of their logo. A nice touch and one that inspired me to write a post about steampunk.

A few months ago, when Mark Gatiss's superb take on The First Men In The Moon was being shown on BBC4, I saw the term steampunk being bandied about as a description of the show. It wasn't until I looked it up that I realised there was actually a term for the Victorian sci-fi aesthetic that I've always found so appealing. To be specific: "steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction usually set in an anachronistic Victorian or quasi-Victorian alternate history setting."

I love Disneyland Paris. (Don't worry, I'm actually going somewhere with this.) The rollercoasters, the atmosphere, the constant smell of popcorn, the oversized lollipops, even the creepy animatronic kids in Small World. I particularly love the Discoveryland section of the park, where Space Mountain resides. In the American parks, this section is a 1950s-vision-of-the-future, World of Tomorrow themed area. But its French counterpart is a glorious Jules Verne inspired playground, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it's actually rife with steampunk influences.

Look at it! It's so flipping pretty!

Space Mountain, which I've always thought of as one of the most gorgeous looking rollercoasters ever, is a Victorian canon that sends you rocketing into space for feck's sake. It's a steampunk rollercoaster! No wonder I've always loved it.

It transpires that films like Back To The Future III, A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Sky Captain and The World Of Tomorrow, and even the recent Victorian Robert Downey Ridebag-fest Sherlock Holmes would all be loosely classed as steampunk, with The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novel generally credited with hauling the genre into mainstream pop culture.

Captain Amelia from Disney's Treasure Planet, Violet Baudelaire from A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Mina Murray from The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Captain Franky Cook from Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow. It appears that steampunk fiction tends to go for long-ass titles.

There are all manner of objects that steampunk enthusiasts manage to convert into gorgeous neo-Victorian versions of themselves, keyboards, guitars, iPods, even Santa. Seriously, Google it. One of the most impressive steampunk makeovers I've seen are these reimagined Star Wars illustrations by artist Bjorn Hurri. Check it.

How much cooler does Leia look? Infinitely so is the answer.

Steampunk fashion is a thing to behold too. Brown leather corsets, aviator goggles, polished brass, lace, buckles, top hats, laser guns and a general air of badassery.

It's all whirring cogs and gears and a sort of smashing together of sci-fi, Victoriana and the wild west. And it's only deadly.

In a weird and rather well timed coincidence, there's a Steampunk night happening in The Sugar Club on the 25th February, details here. Intriguing, no?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Shiny Shiny Disco Balls

Ah the nineties. Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool and shootin' some b-ball outside of the school. Not to mention conversations that went "No way" "Way" "No way!" "Way!" "NO WAY!" "WAY!". Good times. A last minute text from The Incredible Mulq yesterday and a resolve to brave the hurricane-force wind resulted in the pair of us being flung into a shinier, more disco nineties, courtesy of Bitches With Wolves as they tore up Whelan's last night in their own glittery way.

Quote and photo from State

The crowd, as expected, was hipster central. Haircut o'clock, you could say and ticking off the appearance of dickie bows (check), oversized glasses (check) and ridiculous quiffs (check) made for a fun game of hipster bingo. And that was just the boys. The girls were backcombed, red-lipped and too pretty to say sorry when they walloped into you. "The cast of Fade Street are probably here" sneered I. Moments later, frontman,
Head Bitch and human disco ball James pulled a girl onstage to dance along to You Can't Piss To This, exclaiming "Jaysus! It's yer wan from Fade Street!". Having only seen half of one episode I still can't confirm if that was actually the case, and neither could The Incredible Mulq.

Making fun of cool kids aside, the gig itself was brilliant fun too. Copious changes of sparkly costume, Solitary Brother morphing into Papa Was A Rolling Stone, a dynamite Dolly Parton-inspired acoustic version of their disco
aural assault Broken Hearts and quips like "There's no we in Madonna" made for an unquestionably entertaining experience. Demented, supremely danceable electro-pop. Next time we're bringing the boys to hold our coats so we can go nuts on the dancefloor.

Oh, and Brendan Courtney was there too. Mega.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Owl And The Kitty Cat

There's worse ways to spend a Sunday morning than ambling around the Dublin Flea Market in Newmarket Square (last Sunday of every month) while drinking lemonade. Indeed, it's served the Bear and I rather well in the past, as it was there that we came upon Pre Loved Style, who sexified our coffee table up immensely. Last Sunday, the Bear managed to add to his ever growing VHS collection, as he is wont to do, and picked up a little wooden bowl (that I decided should be filled with M&Ms) for €2. I didn't do too badly myself, happening upon this pretty piece of finger candy for €7.

As well as this mega cute owl pendant for €8, that...

...wait for it...

...doubles as a clock necklace! Look at him go. He's like a little inoffensive flasher you can wear around your neck. Aw.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Quelque Chose #7

Lá Fhéile Bhríde inniú. I'll take this Bridget instead though.